This morning I woke up at 1am. As I woke up a little, a phrase was in my head…”embrace your backstory.” I thought that was weird, and I wasn’t even sure what it meant, but at 1am I really don’t want to contemplate so I made a note in my phone with the phrase because it felt important for some reason. Then I went back to sleep.
As I’ve moved through the morning that phrase keeps coming back to me. What is a backstory? I consulted almighty google of course. A backstory is history before the story, the things that lead up to the start of the story. It’s part of what makes a character who he or she is. It’s their history.
Interesting. Here in October, I’m being prompted to embrace my backstory?
But it makes sense. October is hard. There’s a quote from Anne of Green Gables that says “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” But I could do without October. My backstory was great until October 21, 1982.
I was 5 in October 1982. On October 21, my dad died as a result of injuries from a hunting accident. I went from a 5 year old singing “Jesus loves me” to a 5 year old who wondered if Jesus really did love me. And, even if Jesus did love me, I wasn’t sure I loved him very much.
You can be shocked if you want at that statement. I was a Christian. I did the things. I believed in God. I knew that Jesus died for my sins. I knew that God raised him from the dead. I just wasn’t sure he was a very nice guy.
Everyone had their church responses. “Everything happens for a reason”. (Ok. Well the reason stinks but it doesn’t say a good reason I guess.). “All things work for good” (So, you’re saying it’s good my dad died? Nope.). “God knows whats best.” (How could that possibly be best?). My personal favorite “He’s a father to the fatherless”. (Well that’s dandy but I’d rather have the father that fathered me thank you very much.)
Looking back, am I a better person for going through October 1982? Not necessarily, but I’m changed because of it. I don’t know who I would be without this event. I know my dad was a good person, so it’s hard to say I wouldn’t be a good person with his influence in my life. But it’s part of my backstory.
The anger, the hurt, the loss. They’ve all carried me through to who I’ve become. They’ve all had a part in the path I’ve walked. The path I’ve taken has forever shaped me and changed me.
And I still dread October. But while recently I’ve wondered still if God is kind to me, He’s shown me in so many ways that He is.
I have a ring that I have worn every day since high school. It’s my mom’s wedding ring and it’s the most important thing I own. The reason I wear it every day is I’m terrified of losing it. I’ve only taken it off for surgeries and I’ve had someone I trust hold it every time.
This Saturday, at work, I put my hand in my pocket, and it snagged. I looked at my ring, and the diamond was missing.
I work in a hospital. My hands are in and out of gloves all day and in some undesirable things.
The diamond is small by today’s standards of giant rings, but for college students in the 70s it was big. But to look for in a giant hospital, it was tiny. My stomach felt sick, and tears burned in my eyes. I knew I’d never find it here. But I knew if I didn’t try, I could not deal with that.
I looked everywhere. I dug through hospital trash. (Yup. That happened.). I looked under beds (and even in beds.) I was praying hard, and trying not to cry because you’re not supposed to do that.
I was walking down the hall with a flashlight and about to give up because I had devoted all the time I could afford to looking (about 15 minutes). I was about to put the flashlight up and thought, “I sat at one computer for part of the day. I’ll just shine the light over there and then put it up and accept the fact that it’s gone forever.” The flashlight caught something that sparkles. Surely not? As I bent down, there on the floor under the computer, the floor that was swept in the morning, lay a small diamond. My small diamond.
And that’s just one more way God shows me that He is kind. That even though we’ve been through all the things, He still cares about something that would seem minor to everyone else but was so big to me.
And it matters so much because of my backstory. It’s a connection. It matters. Because of my story it matters more than anything else.
Also because of my story, I know it’s not lucky. It’s God showing His kindness once again and saying “your little broken heart matters to me. I do love you, through it all.”
I know Jesus loves me, because of my backstory, in spite of my backstory and through all of my backstory. And I know I love him too.
There are other pieces of my history that shape me, but this defining moment, this October 21, 1982, I’ve fought through for years. I don’t know what this October will bring. I just know that line is true, “I will trust you even when it hurts.” (Everything Lauren Daigle).
It’s time to stop fighting the story and embrace the story. It was hard. I hate that it happened. I wish it hadn’t. But I am who I am because of and in spite of the story. I am who I am because of a God who loved me well when I didn’t necessarily love him well. I am because He was.
And we will survive October yet again.